1960s Fashion History

For more information on this decade in fashion history, check out our list of books and reviews at Recommended Reading. Also please visit our Links page.

For bibliography referencing, the author of this page is April Ainsworth.


Women's Vintage Fashions of the 1960s

Silhouette     Despite the decade's new and very different fashions, everyday clothes were quite simple.  Usually A-line or shift dresses were worn with lengths between the high thigh and the knee.  Hair was short to shoulder-length and sometimes piled high in a "beehive".

Common Designs in Vintage Clothing

  • Simple shift or princess line dresses in a solid or soft print fabric
  • Mini length dresses with ultra-modern or baby doll details
  • Dress and coat sets, conservatively styled and usually imported
  • Boxy jacket and skirt suits, in solid suitings a la Jackie O


Fabrics Available     Almost all fabrics we know of today were available by the 60s.  Day dresses and suit sets ranged from light- to heavy weight, usually in natural or natural-look fabrics.  The new space-age styles were in smooth, bright, obvious synthetics like vinyl.


Popular Colors and Prints     Florals of all types and some abstracts were common day prints. Psychedelic prints emerged later in the decade.   Brighter and more varied prints were seen in leisurewear, especially Hawaiian motifs.  Solids and basic prints were predominant for evening and business wear except in faddish designs.

Trims and Detailing     Overall, there was little trim, excepting simple motifs seen in piping or embroidery.  Evening saw more extravagant sequins or beading, especially encrusted panels on a jewel collar and cuffs.


Hemlines Day and Night     Mini skirts and dresses were skimpy, sometimes daringly popular items for day or evening. Usually, day dresses were just above the knee, and evening was ankle-length.


The Latest Fads


  • Hot pants (extremely short shorts)
  • Mini skirts
  • No hats or gloves for daywear
  • Space-age fashions in vinyl and other synthetics
  • Bold, solid color contrasts from the Op Art movement, commonly called Mod fashions
  • Preppie fashions, including mohair sweaters, madras plaid and A-line skirts


  • Invention of aramid fabric (1961)
  • Helmets and vinyl layers from space designers like Courreges and Cardin